Volkozero, Russia, August 12, 2019
Archimandrite Benjamin (Kononov), the abbot of Solovki Monastery, and Hieromonk Nicephor (Kuchin) were killed in the late 1920s by members of the Young Communist League who for some reason thought the monks were carrying a lot of wealth and wanted to rob them.
Last week, the martyric site became the site of the celebration of the Lord’s sacrifice on Golgotha for the first time in 90 years. A priest and parishioners from Archangelsk made a 3-day, 37 mile trek to reach the site and serve the Divine Liturgy, reports the Arkhangelsk Diocese.
The “expedition” was organized and undertaken by Fr. Alexander Dyatlov and the parishioners of the Church of St. Xenia of St. Petersburg in Arkhangelsk.
“We need to draw people’s attention to the podvig of the New Martyrs who suffered in the 20th century. Many know about the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra and go there, but, unfortunately, they know much less about their closer holy places,” said Fr. Alexander.
The priest and parishioners endured a difficult journey to honor the Solovki New Martyrs.
“When we reached the Kuropld River, we found that the bride across it had been dismantled; it was impossible to drive across it, and there were still 12 miles to go,” Fr. Alexander said. The group was not certain if they could ford the river with all their personal and liturgical supplies, “But God helped.” In the end, two fishermen took them across the river, and even returned for them in three days.
The pilgrims established several signs along the way, and on the site of the monks’ martyric death—an informational stand with an icon and short life of the saints. Fr. Alexander also served a litia and moleben on the site, as well as the Divine Liturgy.
“More than 90 years have passed since this great Sacrament was served on this quiet place. The soul rejoiced and exulted. ‘The Secret Solovki’ opened its door to a small group of people, five of whom were here for the first time, and it’s unknown how long this door will still be opened,” the parish of St. Xenia noted.
A video was shot during the trek that will be used as the basis for a short documentary on the saints.
St. Benjamin is also among the Fathers of the 1917-1918 Local Council of the Russian Church, who are celebrated together on November 5/18.